Hashimoto's future in pro soccer is now up in the air
By Leila Wai
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Leila Wai
Duke Hashimoto could be out of touch while his soccer future is being decided.
On Friday, Hashimoto will be on a plane to Philadelphia for an All-American soccer banquet, around the same time the Major League Soccer SuperDraft is taking place.
"I'm trying to get my flight changed," he said. "(If not) I think I'll be in the air for most of the draft."
Hashimoto, a 2002 Iolani graduate from Kapolei, could be the second player from Hawai'i ever selected in the MLS SuperDraft.
Brian Ching, now with Houston (formerly the San Jose Earthquakes), was chosen by the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2001's SuperDraft as the 16th overall pick.
To help with his standing in the draft, Hashimoto was invited to the MLS players combine at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., from Jan. 12 to 15. Coaching staffs and general managers from all 12 MLS teams scouted the players.
"It's kind of exciting, but I think it's just like going to any other place where you're going to play," Hashimoto said of the draft. "You have to go some place and beat someone out for a position.
"The way I've been looking at it, no matter if I get drafted or picked up by a team or have to try out somewhere, the players still have to show up and play. I'm not really worried about the draft too much. I just want to play, so it doesn't matter where I go (in the draft and the city.)"
The four-round SuperDraft will be televised live on Fox Soccer Channel at 7 a.m. Hawai'i time and will be on MLSnet.com.
The draft is being held in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention in Philadelphia, where Hashimoto will pick up his NSCAA All-America second-team award.
Hashimoto, who recently concluded his career at Southern Methodist University, hasn't signed with an agent because, "right now, everyone I talked to said there's no need for an agent, because for the first couple of years all the contracts are preset, and there are no negotiating terms."
He didn't receive input from the MLS coaches or scouts following the combine.
"For the most part, we were just playing," Hashimoto said. "I didn't get talked to by anyone. No one approached me and said how I did, except for the coaches for my team."
It leaves Hashimoto's future unknown, even after he earned postseason honors such as Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year, SoccerTimes.com All-America second team and College Soccer News All-America third team.
He said those honors, along with SMU advancing to the College Cup (NCAA semifinals), helped earn him the combine invitation.
"I'm not sure how many people knew about me before all that stuff happened," Hashimoto said.
At the combine, the players were split into four teams that scrimmaged each other. The players would play one game a day, and otherwise were "pretty much on our own the whole time, except for games," Hashimoto said.
They filled the rest of their days with testing, a union meeting and speeches.
Hashimoto, at 5 feet 7 and 150 pounds, said, "I was smaller than everybody, but faster than a lot of the guys there. It was a really good group of players I played with, guys who could really play soccer."
Although he played forward in college, Hashimoto was moved to attacking midfielder at the combine, a position he hasn't played in four years.
"I did pretty good. The first day, I kind of didn't do as good as I could have," he said. "The second and third days were better. I got better as the week went on."
Buzz Carrick of 3rddegree.matchnight.com projected Hashimoto to be a possible third-round draft pick.
He noted on the Web site that Hashimoto has "blistering speed on long runs and high work rate, but (he's) not a great player at cutting or turning. I think he translates to an outside mid in (the) MLS and will need to learn some tactical patience as he wants to go right to goal at this point. Doesn't value possession enough, but that can be learned."
Reach Leila Wai at firstname.lastname@example.org.